Home > Articles > Business & Management

Tips for Producing More Effective YouTube Videos

This chapter shows you how to make better-looking, better-performing YouTube videos and drive customers to your accompanying website.
This chapter is from the book

So, you've decided to make YouTube part of your company's marketing mix and you've even decided what type of video to produce. How do you go about making a must-see video, one that draws viewers and generates sales for your business?

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to producing effective YouTube videos. But I can impart lots of tips that can guide you in the right direction. Read on to learn how to make better-looking, better-performing YouTube videos—and drive customers to your accompanying website.

Tips for Creating Better-Looking Videos

When shooting a video for YouTube, it's important to get the file format and technical details right. It's also important to get the visual details right—to create a video that is visually and stylistically interesting to YouTube viewers.

What works well on a big movie screen works less well on a smaller home television screen. Similarly, what looks good on a TV-sized screen doesn't look nearly as good when viewed in a small window in a web browser. If you want to create an effective YouTube video, you have to produce for the medium, exploiting those elements that make YouTube unique.

Shoot for the Smaller Screen

Given that most YouTube viewers will be viewing your video in a small window in their web browser, you must create a video that looks good at this small size, viewed on a typical computer screen. What does this mean in terms of visual style?

Put simply, when viewing videos in a small onscreen window, detail gets lost. Don't expect a video crowded with multiple objects to look good in YouTube's default player window; in fact, smaller objects in the frame might simply disappear in the background blur.

The best YouTube videos are those that exploit YouTube's standard display. Don't put small, complex objects on screen; use a large, simple subject instead. What works best? A simple talking head, positioned front and center in the frame. No fancy background, no fiddly details, just the speaker's face big in the frame.

That goes even when you're shooting in high definition. You can shoot an epic with a cast of thousands, and an HD picture will accurately reproduce the entire cast, but those thousands will look like little dots in a small browser window. It's a matter of size. The best YouTube videos are visually simple, with a single main subject filling up most of the small video window. Get up close, and frame the subject so that he or it fills most of the screen.

When using a webcam, filling the screen means getting up close to the lens. When using a camcorder, you should zoom into the main subject, and remove any unnecessary people or objects from the frame. Close-ups are good; crowd shots aren't.

You also want to make sure the scene you're shooting has adequate lighting. Too many YouTube videos come out way too dark, which makes them hard to view. This is especially important when you're shooting with a webcam; even though a webcam might claim to work under normal room light, you're better off investing in a set of affordable photo floodlights or a separate speed light.

Accentuate the Contrast

As noted previously, visual contrast is highly desirable with small-footprint videos. Put a pale or white-clad subject in front of a black background, or a black-clad subject in front of a white one. And consider using brightly colored backgrounds, which pop in YouTube thumbnails. Believe it or not, hot pink really grabs the attention of casual viewers!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

YouTube is streaming video, which means that a video streams from the YouTube site to a viewer's computer in real time. Streaming typically works well if a viewer has a fast broadband Internet connection, and less well if he doesn't.

To that end, know that streaming video doesn't always reproduce rapid movement well. Move the camera too fast, or have your subject move too fast in the frame, and viewers are likely to see motion smears, pixilation, and other unacceptable video effects. Keep things slow and simple for best results.

Invest in Quality Equipment

To make a quality video, you need a quality video camera. That doesn't necessarily mean a professional camera; a high-quality consumer-grade camcorder will do a good job. Make sure you have a digital camcorder, rather than an older analog one, so that your video is completely digital from start to finish. Look for a camcorder that works well under low-light conditions, has a quality lens with a nice zoom factor, and that lets you connect an external microphone. Personally, I prefer hard disk camcorders because they make it very easy to transfer video from the camcorder to your computer for editing; it's a simple matter of transferring files from one hard disk to another, without having to play back a tape in real time. And the bigger the camera's charge-coupled device (CCD), the better the picture quality.

Shoot Like a Pro

When you're shooting your video, embrace professional production techniques—even if you're just using a consumer-grade camcorder. Here are the things you need to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the subject is well lit; use an external lighting kit.
  • Make sure the speaker can be heard; use an external microphone, if your camera has an auxiliary mic input.
  • Monitor the audio with a set of headphones while rehearsing and recording; don't assume the camcorder is recording good sound just because the level meters are bouncing.
  • Minimize background and crowd noise; keep it quiet on the set.
  • Keep the camera steady; use a tripod.
  • Don't move the camera around too much.
  • Don't zoom in and out too much.

In other words, do everything you can to keep the focus on the main subject. Don't let the camerawork distract the viewer!

Use Two Cameras

Here's another way to add a professional sheen to your videos. Instead of shooting with a single camera directly in front of the subject, shoot with two cameras, shooting the subject from two different angles. This enables you to cut between shots in the editing process, adding visual variety to the video.

In addition, having two different angles to choose from makes it easier to edit the speaker, if you need to. Editing in different shots from different angles makes the fact that you're editing less apparent; the cut isn't as jarring or noticeable when you switch from one angle to another.

Look Professional—Or Not

If you're representing a professional business, your videos need to look professional. The standard look of personal YouTube videos—an unshaven twenty-something in a t-shirt, staring intently at a web camera—just doesn't give off the professional vibe that most businesses want. Whether your video's cast is one or thousands, make sure that anyone on camera is well dressed and well groomed, that everyone is well lit and well mic'd, and that the whole production has a professional sheen.

Unless, that is, you want to give out a hip young vibe. In that instance, take off the suits and ties and emulate the personal look that's become ubiquitous on YouTube. In other words, make sure your video has a look and feel that matches your company's message.

Don't Just Recycle Old Videos—Re-Edit Them, Too

Many businesses get started on YouTube by uploading existing company videos. This isn't a horrible idea, especially as a first effort. It's a low-cost, low-effort way to get your feet wet in the YouTube pond. However, your results will suffer if you just upload old videos without changes. You'll do better if you bring an older video up-to-date in its content and appearance, even if that means re-editing the video or shooting new scenes.

Consider Creating a Slideshow

If you don't need full-motion video or don't have access to a video camera, consider putting together a slideshow of still photographs. Just compile the photos into a slideshow, add background music or a voiceover, and upload the whole thing to YouTube. Likewise, some topics benefit from PowerPoint presentations, which you can also convert to video for uploading to YouTube.

Hire a Pro

Don't have the skills or equipment to create a video in-house? Hire an outside firm to produce the video for you. Every town has one or more video production companies that do this sort of thing. There's no need to reinvent the wheel; let the pros teach you the right way to do things.

Break the Rules

Don't confuse these tips for creating better-looking videos with hard and fast rules. It's okay to think outside the box and do things a little different. For example, if you want to create a hip-looking video for a younger audience, it's permissible to take the camera off the tripod and go for a "shaky-cam" effect. Do whatever it takes to achieve the effect you want.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020